With the coronavirus sweeping the world, a lot of people are finding themselves doing time in isolation and quarantine. For introverts like me, this is actually a good thing. We don’t care about going out, we abhor large crowds, and we prefer to stay home. It’s liberating to have it mandated by our employers, and to not receive the side-eye from society for being “weird.” Finally, we can do what we love to do without sanction or shunning.
But I realize this isn’t the case for everyone. Extroverts are likely having a difficult time with enforced isolation. For them, the very idea of staying home and out of crowds is foreign, if not downright scary. Deprived of social interaction and stimulation, some people are likely to get a little stir crazy. That’s okay. you can learn how to be more comfortable at home and with small groups, it just takes some practice and a willingness to experiment.
I know I won’t convert anyone to introversion as a permanent way of life, and that’s not the goal. Everybody’s got to do their thing and more power to you when the virus passes and you can go out again. We introverts are pros at self-isolation, though, so just allow me to provide some tips to get you through the current crisis. Here are some things you can do/embrace to pass the time until you can resume your social activities.
Tackle the to do list. Many extroverts I know constantly complain that they never have any time to do all the things on their household to do list. They can’t find time to clean, organize, paint, do repairs, or tend to the lawn. They’re always out having fun, so these things never get done. Well guess what? Now’s a great time to tackle all that stuff.
Take up a hobby. A lot of extroverts have social hobbies like going to the gym, joining sports teams, taking group classes, going to things like concerts or sporting events, or joining clubs to further various interests. Introverts, on the other hand, have a lot of solo hobbies, which is great for times like these. Crafting, Lego (or other model building), jigsaw puzzles (or other puzzles like crosswords, word search, “find the difference,” etc.), coloring, board games, music, cooking, language learning, writing, or art are great places to start.
Go outside. Yeah, this is difficult if you’re quarantined in a big city where you can’t go out without risking human contact. But if you’re in the suburbs, you should be able to get out and go for a walk, sit on your porch and bird watch, play some games on the lawn with the kids, or work in a garden. Spring is coming (or already here, depending) and getting some fresh air is good for you.
Learn how to entertain yourself. Introverts are masters at entertaining ourselves. It helps that most of us are deeply curious about the world, so that opens up a lot of options. There’s online learning, reading, listening to podcasts, and watching all sorts of movies or documentaries. Live sports may be off the table for now, but there are still plenty of things to watch. Get a subscription to the streaming service that most interests you and binge your way through the catalog. See if your library offers a subscription to Hoopla or Kanopy. Now is also a great time to catch up on any DVD’s you own but haven’t watched, or to go back and watch all those bonus features you always said you wanted to see. Look around your house or projects started but never finished, or items bought but never used and work on those.
Read. Yeah, I mentioned it above, but it deserves its own slot. There are tons of books available for free online, and while you’re stocking up on food and toilet paper, hit the library or your local bookstore for a stack of books. There’s literally something for every interest in the world of books and you’re sure to find something if you look.
Make things cozy and fun. Your home should be comfortable if you’re going to spend a lot of time in it. Some extroverts don’t bother with their living spaces because they’re never there. But introverts know the value of well placed lighting, comfortable seats, blankets for curling up with, and surrounding themselves with comforting and familiar objects. Look at the space you’re going to be stuck in and find ways to make it more comfortable for yourself.
Practice self-care. Things like meditation, exercise, little treats, and comforting rituals are all helpful for preventing the crazies during home confinement. Introverts love things like hot baths, in-home yoga or exercise, an evening spent relaxing in front of a fire, engaging in meditation or self-reflection, or enjoying a small piece of chocolate while watching the birds. Find ways to treat and care for yourself, otherwise your health and outlook will suffer.
Get your social interaction in other ways. Lucky for you, we live in a time when it’s easy to talk and interact with others. Use FaceTime, or a similar app to speak face to face. Group apps like Slack can allow you to keep up with your social groups. Instant messaging, email, phone calls, texting, social media… whatever you want, it’s all there for you. If you want to go a little old-school, you can take up writing letters as a personal way to keep in touch.
Get in touch with your family. Extroverts are often go-go-go and lament that they don’t get to spend time with their families. Here’s your chance! Get to know your kids and partner again. Play games, talk, watch TV together, go for walks if you can, and just catch up with each other. Remind yourself why you love these people so much.
Being confined at home doesn’t have to mean misery and deprivation. Look at it as a chance to get in touch with your “other side.” You can spend the time engaging in productive, educational, and fun activities that you normally overlook. It beats spending weeks lamenting all the thins you cannot do.
(Image by FotoRieth)